My name is Veronica Sierra. I was born in Mexico City and have been living in Florida since 1999, and I got my License as a Dietitian by the Florida Health Department in 2001. Nutrition is my “Passion and Mission” and I love to help people improve their health and well-being. I am fully bilingual in Spanish and English, goal oriented, and have been treating patients for 18 years developing nutritional plans according to each individual needs, including age, gender, ethnicity, health status, etc. I also enjoy teaching and have been doing seminars and nutrition lectures to people from different ages, backgrounds, and fields. I have a special interest in helping kids and families expand their nutritional knowledge and give them more tools to improve and develop good eating habits. I have had the great opportunity to participate in different T.V. shows, such as “Despierta America”, “Noticias 23”, “Cada Dia”, “Levantate”, etc; and in radio programs such Cristina Radio, and La Nueva F.M. My recent training in Functional Medicine at University of Miami and my attendance to different seminars and summits, has given me the knowledge and tools to treat patients in a more integrative way. After doing a complete nutritional evaluation I can identify each patient needs. We can explore certain food sensitivities or intolerances (Such as Gluten or Dairy), leaky gut, nutritional imbalances, deficiencies, certain toxicities, etc. My main goal as Dietitian is to provide each client with a customized nutrition plan and recommend certain supplements, according to their individual needs to achieve a nutrient based diet that helps them improve their health, physical and emotional well-being as well as prevent many chronic diseases. As part of a multidisciplinary team at ”Open Mind” I am a firmly believer that the body can restore it’s own balance and health by improving the eating, sleeping, stress management, and exercising patterns. I look forward to help you and your family lives a more enjoyable and pleasant life.
Yours in Health,
Bachelors in Clinical Nutrition and Food Sciences at Universidad Iberoamericana . Mexico City.
I camp “Clinical Nutrition and Integrative Approach to Chronic Conditions “at University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine.
I camp “Clinical Nutrition Advance Course” at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
In Mexico I worked with a well know gastroenterologist and had my own practice. Here in Florida I did my training hours at Palmetto General Hospital at the Food and Nutrition Department I worked for 7 years with Dr. Jorge Luis Sosa, one of the best known bariatric surgeons in south Florida, giving all the nutritional guidance to patients who have had the gastric bypass or any of the related weigh loss surgeries or procedures.
I formed part of a Multidisciplinary team at Pasteur Clinics in a program called “Pasteur Light” with a group of seniors which main purpose was to increase their medical and nutritional knowledge, giving them prepared meals, and an exercise program, to improve their health and well-being. With very good results.
I also formed part of an Assessing group of a non Profit Organization called “Latino Center on Aging” formed in New York 22 years ago by Mr. Mario Tapia, which main purpose is to bring awareness to the community of Alzheimer’s disease with a yearly seminar, as well as to promote and include the Hispanic Seniors in the programs and services that the government and community offers for them and to bring some of this information in its own language. I formerly worked with Dr. Sandra Moloznick at Integrative Health in North Miami Beach focusing on a Functional Medicine approach to treat many health conditions including Gluten Intolerances, Hormonal Imbalances, Weight loss, Food Sensitivities, High Cholesterol, Glucose intolerance, etc.
And now I’m very excited to join “Open Mind” and work with a multidisciplinary team to serve you better and give you a more integrative approach.
- What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that makes the dough sticky, it is like a glue, and it is found in some grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Spelt durum and semolina are all types of wheat so they contain gluten. Unfortunately this chewy gluey protein that makes bread pastries and pasta taste so good is poison to a large segment of the population who cannot tolerate it.
- What does Gluten Sensitivity Means?
A gluten sensitivity (GS) means when people suffer from a systemic autoimmune disorder that whenever they eat anything containing gluten their immune system reacts. The most common disease related to Gluten is Celiac Disease (CD).
When a person can’t digest and absorb this protein called Gluten, this protein becomes an antigen or in simple words an “Enemy for the body”, and the immune system starts to react forming antibodies “Soldiers”, to be able to destroy the enemy. This internal war promotes inflammation in the body which is the root cause of many disease and autoimmune disorders
- Which are the most common symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity?
The symptoms of celiac disease and Gluten Sensitivity can vary dramatically from one person to another. For example, one person with celiac disease may be asymptomatic, another may suffer from chronic digestive distress, and others may experience more general symptoms such as fatigue. Many people with GS can have symptoms different than digestive problems such as headaches, foggy brain, body aches in their bones, muscles and/or joints, fatigue, etc. There has been also a strong link with GS and neurological manifestations such as ADHD, Tics, Anxiety, Epilepsy, Depression, Alzheimer Disease, and Parkinson Disease etc.
- Is Gluten Sensitivity (GS) the same as Celiac Disease (CD)?
No. Celiac Disease is the extreme reaction of the immune system and damage of the intestinal lining (causing major problems with the absorption of nutrients), this promotes many digestive symptoms such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, etc. And an overall absorptive problem that translates in many nutrient deficiencies, and failure to thrive.
CD is a genetic disease that runs in families. It is not always easy to diagnose and there are different lab-tests; and also an intestinal biopsy can help to establish the diagnosis.
- Which foods do not contain Gluten?
Cereals such as Rice (any kind) Quinoa, Corn, Millet, and Amaranth do not contain gluten.
Meats, Poultry, Fish and Seafood; prepared from scratch in a natural way, by just adding salt, pepper and some natural herbs or spices. Do not use already prepared, sauces, marinades or gravies since many of them may contain Gluten.
Beans and Legumes home made not from a can.
Fresh Vegetable and Fruits.
Nuts and Seeds.
- Is a Gluten Free Diet necessarily a Nutritious and Healthy Diet?
Not necessarily. It is very important if you decide to follow a Gluten Free diet to study and seek for professional guidance, from a Dietitian or a Doctor that is trained in this subject. They will help and give you tools on how to choose the Gluten Free products that are healthy, and how to balance your meals.
Marketers are always coming out with new products, and now that Gluten Sensitivity is being better studied and understand many people is switching to this type of diet, but it is very important to get informed, and educated in this matter. Many Gluten Free products can be very high in Carbohydrates, Sugars, and Fats, and can promote weight gain or affect our health.
- What is Obesity?
Obesity is the easiest disease to diagnose and the most complicated to treat due to it’s multifactorial origin. The easiest and more specific way to describe “Obesity” is an excess of fat tissue in the body.
- How is Obesity Diagnosed?
Normally it is diagnosed by a clinical evaluation using certain Parameters and Body measurements. The most common ones are Body Mass Index, Measurement of Fat tissue (by different methods and devices) and Waist Circumference. All of this provides valuable information that will help us determine the level of Obesity as well as the health risk associated.
- What is the main risk of being Obese?
It is very important to understand that Obesity causes inflammation in the body which brings with it many chronic diseases such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular Disease, Sleep Apnea, Fatty Liver, High Cholesterol, Arthritis, Cáncer, Anxiety, Depression, and even premature death.
- Which are the main causes of Obesity?
The type of foods that a person eats, mainly a high intake of sugars, sodas, or sugary drinks, refined carbohydrates such as pastas, white breads, potatoes, processed foods and fast foods which are also high in Carbs and Fats.
Portion Size is also a big contributor. In the past twenty years the portion size is two to three times larger than it used to be.
Physical Inactivity, stress and lack of sleep also promote an unbalanced body that tends to accumulate fat.
- What can we do to prevent or treat Obesity?
As mentioned before Obesity is multifactorial so a healthy lifestyle is crucial; this includes good eating habits, daily exercise, stress management and an adequate sleeping pattern. Have your annual check up with your primary doctor to check your lab-work. Visit a Nutritionist or Dietitian who can help you determine your requirements according to your age, gender and physical activity; and give you tools to improve your diet and make better food choices to have balanced meals. Seek for a Psychologist or therapist if you feel you need to manage your stress or have anxiety, depression or any type of addiction. Start doing the physical activity of your choice, something that you enjoy and that you can stick to as a daily routine.
- What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic Syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur at the same time which increases your chance of developing Diabetes or Cardiovascular Disease.
Such symptoms are High Blood Sugar, High Blood Pressure, High levels of Blood Triglycerides, Cholesterol and Excess of Abdominal Fat.
- What Causes Metabolic Syndrome?
The main causes are Obesity and Physical Inactivity. This syndrome is also known as Insulin Resistance due to the fact that cells do not respond to insulin and glucose and insulin starts accumulating in the blood. As a defense mechanism the body starts turning that sugar into fat which contributes to raise the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
- What is Insulin?
When we eat, foods turn into glucose (sugar) that works as the fuel for the body. This glucose is transported in the blood. After a meal the levels of glucose raise and the pancreas senses this, and produces “Insulin”, which is the hormone in charge to transport glucose from the blood into the cells for them to utilize it.
- What happens if I have Metabolic Syndrome and I don’t take care of myself?
When a person has the clinical manifestations of metabolic syndrome it is crucial that they make a lifestyle change. They need to improve their eating habits and exercise pattern, I might say that Metabolic Syndrome is like a “Wake Up Call” before turning Diabetic or having a Cardiovascular Event.
- Is it reversible?
Yes… If the person decides to make the changes in his/her lifestyle and seeks for help from their Doctor, Dietitian, Personal Trainer, Psychotherapist, etc. they can reverse metabolic syndrome and achieve a better health and well-being state.
They will need to make the pertinent changes such as eating a healthier and balanced diet; and increase his/her physical activity to start controlling their blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The addition of all this lifestyle changes in a permanent way will help them use their fat stores as an energy source which will translate in weight loss. It is very important to monitor your blood pressure constantly as well as your lab-work periodically and always do it under medical and professional supervision, to avoid any complications.
- Which is the types of Fat that exist?
The main classification for fats is Saturated and Unsaturated Fats.
The Saturated are the ones that we mainly find in animal products such as meats, poultry, Dairy, lard, certain deli products such as sausages, salami, etc. and some vegetable ones such as vegetable lard, coconut and palm oil. This fats are usually solid at room temperature and harder for the body to digest and absorb so they tend to accumulate in the body.
The Unsaturated fats are easier to digest and they normally come from vegetable sources such as oils. We can find them in liquid forms such as oils or they come in many nuts and seeds, and some fishes. They are very useful for the body specially the ones known as Omega 3 for the brain.
- What are Omega 3?
Omega 3’s are a type of essential fats, meaning with this that the body can not make them so we necessarily have to obtain them from our diet. They belong to the Unsaturated group which are the most beneficial for the body.
- Why are they important?
They are essential for our health and well-being specially for the brain circulatory, and nervous system. They support the formation and growth of the nervous system cells and help in the neural communication from gestation till elderly.
- Which are the main benefits of Omega 3 in the Brain and Nervous System?
They contribute with brain development and promote intelligence, problem solving, focusing, memory and concentration. They also support a healthy social and emotional development. They help prevent and treat anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, dyslexia, insomnia, mood swings, and mental diseases such as schizophrenia, addictions, dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinson, etc.
- Which are the main benefits in the Cardiovascular system?
They reduce the plaque formation in the arteries, increase HDL levels known as “good cholesterol” and reduces LDL levels, known as “bad cholesterol” that promotes plaque formation. They make the blood thinner which reduces cloth formation and lessens the risk of a heart attack or stroke. They Regulate the heart beat which improves Blood Pressure.
- Which are the main sources of Omega 3?
Fishes that are high in fat such as Salmon, Mackerel, Herring, Sardines, Anchovies, Tuna. But be careful not to eat too much tuna due to mercury contamination,
Seeds and Nuts are also a good source of Omega 3: Walnuts, Flaxseed, Chia and Hemp seeds.
Sometimes it is hard to achieve a good intake of this fats just through our diets so we recommend a good supplement Mercury Free and with a good amount of DHA and EPA.